ITC rules Microsoft handsets violate patents

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Microsoft could face a ban on importing handsets into the US after a ruling by the International Trade Commission. The ITC found that Microsoft had used technology for which InterDigital owns the patents without obtaining the relevant permission.

Microsoft plans to challenge the ruling, saying "we have a successful track record challenging patent assertion entities that misuse industry standards". It is not the first handset manufacturer to have been hit with legal action from InterDigital, and it could severely hamper future handset sales.

Many of Microsoft's Lumia handsets are made outside of the US, and an import ban would require either a relocation of manufacturer facilities, or a change in the way handsets work. InterDigital owns two patents that govern how a handset powers up and connects to a 3G network without interruption.

The ruling by Judge Theodore Essex is subject to review, and Microsoft's sales and imports remain unaffected in the meantime. The review will be carried out by the ITC, and it is expected to come to a conclusion by the end of August. InterDigital is understandably pleased with the current ruling. Lawrence F. Shay, Executive Vice President, Intellectual Property and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel said:

We're obviously very satisfied with today's ruling, which underscores the strength of InterDigital's portfolio and our long track record of developing and licensing some of the core wireless technologies that have helped drive the growth of our industry. We hope it will form the basis for the final determination by the ITC. We also look forward to continued discussion with Nokia and Microsoft Mobile to achieve a license on fair and reasonable terms.

The case dates all the way back to 2007, and has already been ruled in Microsoft's favor once in 2013. InterDigital appealed, bringing us to the current state of play.

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